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LAB - Information Retrieval Toolkit

Subject terms and where to find them

Subject terms are assigned based on article content, allowing you to create a targeted search and find more precise results. They are a set of terms or phrases that are used in libraries and databases to describe, classify and organize books, articles, digital and other content. Subject terms are pre-defined, they form a controlled vocabulary, so not all words are subject terms even though you can use all words for searching. 

You can use the subject term thesauri to help you select the most appropriate terms for your search. With the help of thesauri you can easily choose alternative terms, narrow or broaden your terms which will affect your search results. Here are a few examples of thesauri:  

Many library databases have their own thesauri that allow you to browse for subject terms you can use to search the database in question. You can also see what subject terms are used for the articles and books you've already found in Primo and use them to get better search results. The subjects terms are in the details -section which opens when you click on the title.


Keywords Subject Terms
Natural language, similar to language you'd use in search engines like Google Search terms from a pre-defined "controlled" vocabulary, for example LCSH and YSO
More flexible to search by, easy to combine  Less flexible to search by - you need to know the exact term  
May find many irrelevant search results. Keywords can be anywhere in the search results, for example list of references or just mentioned once in the conclusion. Keywords can yield too many search results. Search results usually relevant to the topic. Subject terms are the most relevant words that describe the content. 
  Also called subjects, subject headings, descriptors

Keywords and Subject Terms in two minutes